Team day

The main event of the week was our team day, which we took for a few reasons:

  1. Our last one a couple of months ago was really positive and we wanted to build on that.
  2. Since the summer we’ve worked on sharing experiences to increase understanding as a key foundation of bringing more equity to the team, so we wanted to bring a bit more of our lives outside of work to this day.
  3. It’s the start of a new year and we wanted to kick it off as positively as possible, with a focus on development and learning for our colleagues in a way that was more personal than just targets.

That meant we did a few things, including getting a coach and facilitator to run a session, having lots of people (including me), talk about personal interests, and also trying to have a bit of fun.

I was reminded how much of what we do as an organisation is about coaching, whether as part of our consultancy or our support to people looking for work. It is not the only thing we do, and I am always loathe to reduce anything to one magic method; whether that be coaching, design or systems thinking, but it is a real thread.

I was struck by how some of our more junior colleagues responded to it. Coaching is still too often the preserve of the senior, the experienced and the wealthy. If you’ve listening to Michael Lewis’s podcast, Against the Rules, you will know the argument. And you will also know the value of it.

And finally, I was reminded how hard a year this is to start. There’s none of the positivity of usual years, just an ongoing limbo. That affects teams as well as individuals. While we didn’t quite have the energy of our last away day, I really hope people got something from it as part of our ongoing development as an organisation and a team.

Restart anxiety

The government’s Restart Scheme is up and running. Prime contractors will be getting their tenders in the coming weeks, which means that those of us who are at subcontractor scale are trying to get into as many bids that we think we can do to a high quality. The process makes planning for the year ahead almost impossible as depending on who wins, we could have either enormous growth in our support for unemployed people in London or get nothing in this programme.

Being a subcontractor feels so powerless.

Reading, listening and watching

On the away day I explained to a group of colleagues why words and poetry were important to me. It was nice to see Amanda Gorman demonstrate the value of words and poetry so beautifully later in the week.

George Saunders’ new book is out. I’ve just started it. It’s already making me happy. He is such a clearly ethical and moral writer. I think it is the morality that I notice first in his work, way before style, and which identifies his voice as a writer so clearly. This a writing guide – a class on the page. I would recommend it, even if you only know him through Lincoln in the Bardo.

John Hitchin CEO